Emma Benoit was living what seemed to be a perfect life, but in reality, her world was falling apart.
Benoit classified herself as an All-American girl. She was a varsity cheerleader, had a great group of friends, came from a middle-class home and didn't have many burdens as a child.
"My anxiety started to take hold in elementary school, and I didn't know what I was dealing with," said Benoit. "It was challenging."
Emma kept her anxiety and emotions to herself, which led to a path of destruction.
"I didn't know what I was dealing with was anxiety and depression. I thought, truthfully, that I was just crazy. I thought I was the only one that felt this way. I thought I was the only one that had this amount of difficulty processing things," Emma explained. "I feel like I internalized all of those emotions and instead acted out."
At just 16 years old, Emma tried to take her life. She survived but was left paralyzed.
"I had a spinal cord injury, so that's a neurological injury, and I lost all of my abilities. That physical journey and the regret propelled me on this mission and expedited my journey."
Emma is now using her experience to help others find hope and to bring awareness to this topic.
She is sharing her story in the feature-length documentary Ascension. The film chronicles Emma's journey and quest to walk again. The film also highlights the stories of two remarkable young people who tragically did not survive their attempts.
"I know it's tough. I know all too well that your brain can be lying to you, playing tricks on you. I encourage you to reach out for help and find someone in your life who you can talk to," said Emma. "It is so important that you're expressing and getting off your chest what you're feeling. If you're struggling mentally or emotionally, reach out for help, find a support system, and know that you're not alone."
"Hope is alive, and suicide is never the answer."
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the Canadian Suicide Prevention line at 1-833-456-4566. You can also go online to get help at https://talksuicide.ca/.